Top Baseball Prospects for 2013
Now updated for 2013's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
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William (Wil) 'Wumbly' Myers is a hard-nosed grinder who some call a throwback to a dirtier era, a ballplayer's ballplayer who can perform well at almost any position. He was treated as a catcher until 2011, when the Royals started using him exclusively in the outfield as a Bryce Harper-style experiment to get him to the big leagues a couple of years sooner. While it's always a shame when such a promising and bright catcher gets accelerated out of the position, it's always been Myers's bat that's the centerpiece of his game. The .304/.378/.554 he slashed at AAA Omaha in 2012 showed that his bat could play pretty much anywhere, anytime, and Baseball America agreed when they named Myers their Minor League Player of the Year for 2012. His defense is already acceptable, if not highlight-reel. He's ready, and his new owners in Tampa should start reaping the benefits this season.
More Scouting Book Info on Wil Myers
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A big Dominican outfielder with an even bigger bat that he brings from the left side, the Cardinals' Oscar Taveras was promoted to AA ball in 2012 and promptly spanked it to the tune of .321/.380/.572. Even scarier, those 23 homers and 37 doubles will add up to some serious power once he finishes filling out: he's still only 20 years old. He will probably spend most of 2013 back in the minors, but he's the most exciting big bat of the year, so it's likely that St Louis will at least give him a look-see in the big leagues, too.
More Scouting Book Info on Oscar Taveras
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The Cardinals first round pick in 2009, pitcher Shelby Miller is a raw but talented prospect with a wicked-hot fastball that has excellent and natural late movement. He's learning to rely on more than just his admittedly-great heat to excel in pro ball, too, so it's not surprising to see his nifty 12-6 curve frustrate batters. More exciting is the extra sink he's starting to trust on the less-explosive two-seam version of his fastball, a pitch that even good hitters will beat into the ground with abandon. With a projectable body that could probably add muscle in the years to come, he looks like a good workhorse candidate in St. Louis starting in 2013.
More Scouting Book Info on Shelby Miller
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The younger of Baltimore's Bouncing Baby Bundies, the growly-looking Dylan is a righthander with ace upside, but he remains relatively untested against pro hitters, and under professional pressure. His ungodly 0.25 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 71 innings as a high school senior earned him honors as the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, BA's High School Player of the Year Award and USA Today's National Player of the Year. That said, he's still what we in the business like to call
a high school pitching prospect, which is a term of art meant to indicate that this category of gamble is among the riskier bets in baseball. His fastball/cutter combination is a genuine plus combo, and he's been improving his command and control while working on improving his changeup in the minors. He'll need that to succeed. The Baltimore organization has done nothing in the last few years to suggest they're not one of the very best incubators for pitching talent, so overall, we're believers. He found a good level at AA Bowie in 2012, and should spend most or all of 2013 in the same uniform.
More Scouting Book Info on Dylan Bundy
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Spending $8M to sign number one pick Gerrit Cole might have seemed extravagant for a 'small market' team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, but when you keep finishing in last place year after year, you need to get something out of it, right? The net result is that the Pirates look very wise indeed: the righthanded Cole joins Jameson Taillon in what might be the best 1-2 punch on any prospect roster in the majors, and giving Cole such a high bonus kept him from demanding a major league contract, which increases the Pirates' flexibility and future control over his career path. Mr. Boras will spin it otherwise, but the Pirates definitely won the first round of Cole's Career Management Battle.
Away from the table and on the field, Cole was one of the best starters in UCLA history. He left the school firmly entrenched on pretty much every record and leader board, and he'll bring his 98mph cannon to bear in 2013 after blowing through the minors last season. Some will pressure Pittsburgh to start the season with him on the big league club, but unless the team is desperate, a June promotion would be smarter, fiscally-speaking.
More Scouting Book Info on Gerrit Cole
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The Mariners' first round pick in 2010, righthander Taijuan Walker looks like a number one starter on almost any MLB team. On the Mariners, that probably makes him a number three, or maybe two-and-a-half. (This team's pitching depth in the minors is just plain sick.
Walker's progress looks to have taken a step back in 2012, as he struggled at times in Jackson, but once you account for his aggressive promotion, a 4.69 ERA / 1.374 WHIP doesn't look so bad for a nineteen year old in AA ball. He did carry a heavy workload for a teenager, pushing through 127 innings of work while striking out almost one hitter every inning. Walker works mainly with a 94mph darting fastball that has great late movement, and when he mixes in a sometimes-effective straight change at 82mph, the fastball is nearly unhittable. His breaking pitch is a slurvy curve that isn't yet ready for regular use, but he'll have time to develop. Walker has higher upside (and higher risk) than either Hultzen or Paxton, but he's also a lot younger, and will probably take longer to realize his potential. He needs to start the year back in AA, but if he makes progress, it's not unreasonable to expect a late-season look in Seattle. Mid-2014 looks like his real callup date, however.
More Scouting Book Info on Taijuan Walker
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He's clearly no shortstop anymore, as Scouting Book readers knew to expect, but that doesn't stop Miguel Sano from stepping into the number one prospect room in Minnesota. The biggest Latin American signing of 2009, Sano was a coup of sorts for the small market Minnesota Twins. A coveted athlete pursued by all the usual big-market teams, it was Minnesota's relentless (one might say 'piranha-like') tenacity that finally landed the youngster.
The power he wasn't showing early arrived in bunches last season, as the now-corner infielder smashed 28 homers and 28 doubles on his way to a .258/.373/.521 line at A-level Beloit. He'll work through the rest of A-ball and into AA in 2013, pending setbacks. While his bat is enticing, the rest of his game is more typical of a still-teenager: sloppy and inconsistent. He'll need to become a better fielder and baserunner, at the very least, before he's treated with proper respect in the big city Cities.
More Scouting Book Info on Miguel Sano
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A righthander most thought was taken a bit high in the first round of 2011's amateur draft, Miami's Jose Fernandez proved to be worth every penny, and he's now the highest-quality arm in a system that's desperate for pitching depth. The big Cuban defector chased big money all the way to Miami, braving sharks both literal and metaphorical, and has since hit 99mph on the radar gun and shown signs of a plus breaking pitch. He's getting closer to major league ready, but with Miami not exactly on the cusp of anything (other than a riot from unhappy fans), the team isn't likely to push him too fast.
More Scouting Book Info on Jose Fernandez
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Like a taller twin to Gerrit Cole, righty James Taillon is a geniune monster power arm from Texas (via Quebec), a very high-ceiling pitcher who has already cracked 100mph on many radar guns. If that's not enough to get your attention, note that while his slider and change are below average, his curveball has already been rated a plus pitch. If he can hold his arm together under increasing workloads and develop his command and control to pro levels, he could be a viable #2 or #3 starter by 2014 or so, with a shot at being a genuine ace somewhere down the road. If Pittsburgh can keep Taillon, Cole and Allie together and healthy, they could have a rotation that evokes 1990s-era Atlanta only a couple of years from now.
More Scouting Book Info on Jameson Taillon
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Top Prospects 2013